Margaret Wise Brown was a prolific author of American children’s literature who penned some of today’s best-loved children’s books, including Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny. More than 100 of Ms. Brown’s children’s stories were published during her lifetime, and more have been published since her death, with millions of copies sold to date. The newest, never-before published Margaret Wise Brown book, entitled Moon Shines Down, will arrive in stores November 2008 (Thomas Nelson).
Born in Connecticut, Margaret attended boarding school during her teenage years and graduated Hollins College in 1932. After graduation she taught and studied art. Her writing career began during her years at the Banks Street Experimental School (New York City).
Ms. Brown’s style varied significantly from other contemporary children’s storybooks. She believed that children preferred to hear about their own lives and interests, rather than the fairytales and fables that dominated children’s storybooks. Ms. Brown ascribed to the “here and now” philosophy of Lucy Sprague Mitchell, with whom she worked at Bank Street. Sprague Mitchell credited Margaret with giving the philosophy “artistic wings.”
Known to her friends as “Brownie,” Margaret was a whimsical, athletic and beautiful green-eyed blonde who enjoyed a glamorous circle of friends. She was known for her practical jokes and for surprising friends and colleagues with parties and gifts. It is said that Margaret spent her first royalty check to purchase a street vendor’s entire cart of flowers—which she had delivered to her home where she threw a party for friends. Margaret was also an animal lover, and her beloved dogs often appeared in her stories and their illustrations. She died of unexpectedly of an embolism at the age of 42 while on a book tour in France. She was, at the time, engaged to be married to James Stillwell Rockefeller, Jr.
Although she never experienced motherhood, Margaret Wise Brown has enchanted millions of children to sleep with her lyrical bedtime story, Goodnight Moon (1947). And for 66 years, she has charmed parents and children alike with Runaway Bunny (1942). These two books, illustrated by Clement Hurd, are Wise Brown’s best-known children’s titles and have remained in print continuously for more than six decades. Wise Brown received a Caldecott Medal for The Little Island (1947) which she wrote under the pseudonym Golden MacDonald. Many of her books have been translated and published in other languages, and several books have been written about the life of the popular author.
Margaret Wise Brown tried to write stories the way children wanted to hear them, not necessarily the way adults wanted to tell them. And she worked tirelessly to help her illustrators draw the way children saw things. Wise Brown attributed her success as a children’s author to her ability to reach down into the soul of the child that still lived within her and bring it to life. As she once said of writing, "One can but hope to make a child laugh or feel clear and happy-headed as he follows the simple rhythm to its logical end. It can jog him with the unexpected and comfort him with the familiar, lift him for a few minutes from his own problems of shoelaces that won't tie, and busy parents and mysterious clock time, into the world of a bug or a bear or a bee or a boy living in the timeless world of a story."